Archive for February, 2010

V-SEPT Responds to Criticism From Dealer

February 8, 2010

I’ve been reporting on V-SEPT (www.v-sept.com) for about five years now. For those of you who don’t know, the company offers an Internet-based CRM (customer relationship management) system built specifically for powersports dealers. Click here for my latest profile on the system, written for our July 2009 issue.

More than one dealer has told me that they have a high regard for V-SEPT, and several current Top 100 dealers have noted it in their contest applications, including Andy’s Cycle Sales of Hazard in Bonnyman, Ky.; Dothan Powersports in Dothan, Ala.; Family PowerSports in Lubbock, Texas; Gieson Motorsports in Rock Falls, Ill.; and Skagit Powersports in Burlington, Wash.

Heartland Honda in Springdale, Ark., is another Top 100 dealer that uses V-SEPT. In an article I wrote for our website last December, store manager Greg Donahoe shared his opinions on several marketing-related vendors. Below is the most relevant portion of the article relating to V-SEPT: (more…)

Polaris Purchases Swiss Engine Maker

February 3, 2010

Move Could Enhance Polaris’ Engineering Capabilities

I just received this information from Polaris Industries. More about this later.

Polaris Industries Inc. (NYSE:  PII) today announced its acquisition of swissauto Powersports. Based in Burgdorf, Switzerland, swissauto has expertise in designing and developing high-performance and high-efficiency engines and innovative vehicles. The acquisition will further strengthen Polaris’ global engine and vehicle design capability while also enhancing the company’s European presence.

Founded in 1987, swissauto’s core capabilities are in development, prototyping and manufacturing of internal combustion engines. Polaris has a long history of working with swissauto. The high-performance, four-stroke Weber engine that Polaris uses in several current snowmobile models was developed by swissauto.

In addition to recreational vehicle engines, swissauto also has a strong tradition of developing top-tier racing engines for World Motorcycle GP. The company’s V4 2-stroke 500 cc engine drove 29 wins, 41 Poles and 3 World Championships during the 1990s. A completely new racing bike was also developed by swissauto and competed aggressively against larger Japanese OEMs during the late 1990s. This bike achieved the pole position twice during it’s first season of racing and ranked in the top ten several times.

“Swissauto has industry leading powertrain design and development capabilities and a strong understanding of turbo-charging and high-performance engines,” said Polaris Chief Executive Officer, Scott Wine. “This acquisition directly supports our stated objectives to be the best in powersports and a global market leader.  ”

Polaris acquired the powersports portion of swissauto and will continue to operate in the current swissauto facility located in Burgdorf, Switzerland. The automotive division of swissauto was not involved in this acquisition and will continue to operate autonomously.

Powersports: The Lost Decade? Not Really

February 1, 2010

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews February 2010 issue.

I have yet to see the final MIC numbers for 2009, but dealers likely retailed about 500,000 new motorcycles and scooters made by the major brands. This is roughly the same number they retailed in the late 1990s. For all you industry veterans, wouldn’t it be great if you could just downsize to your 1999 staffing and advertising levels, and call it good? The OEMs and aftermarket could do the same. With all the recent layoffs, maybe that’s what they’ve had in mind.

If only it were that easy. For one thing, technology and the Internet have changed how business is done. Today there are dealership duties that didn’t exist a decade ago. Even our favorite V-twin hippie, Rick Fairless, has computer people on staff. Turn to page 18 for some insight into how he’s built one of the smartest websites I’ve visited. It’s plain fun.

Technology doesn’t necessarily mean more overhead: It can save money in man-hours and advertising. Fairless, for example, explains how he’s stopped spending money on the Yellow Pages. Another columnist, Eric Anderson (page 28), talks this month about digital signage that acts as a silent salesperson on steroids. (more…)